Working from home

Reflections on working from home

I’ve been continuously working from home for several weeks now. 

It’s my longest unbroken home-working spell since the first lockdown a year ago. This one definitely feels better, but there are definitely some downsides. 

For a start, I’m a lot busier! Last year, a lot of work was cancelled just as soon as people had to leave their offices. I’m talking about the kind of face-to-face coaching and training that’s my bread and butter work. So I had several quiet weeks, where the working from home didn’t involve much…working. 

Secondly, my partner and I are sharing the same apartment as our workspaces, which is very obvious to both of us when we’re on concurrent calls and video meetings. We have some real juggling to do to make it all work. 

Thirdly – and I know I’m not alone in this – when we had our first lockdown, there was an element of novelty and a sense that it would all be over within weeks, that kept me going. A year later, and I’ve no real sense that things will improve significantly any time soon. So we’re in it for the long haul. 

How I’m dealing with it.

A Twitter thread I read the other day about mental health got me thinking about how I’m dealing with all of this. As I’d explain to a coachee, I’m not the exemplar here, but I also believe it can be useful to share what we’re all up to, so we can learn from each other. 

And I don’t mean bragging about how much bread I’m baking. (I’m baking no bread).

Context

I have good days and bad days. Just like everyone. But to save myself from getting hooked by my own visions of disaster and catastrophe, I take a mental step back and look at the bigger picture. Appreciate what’s going well and see what I can do about what’s not. Putting even the worst of days in context is helpful. 

Routine

I’ve settled into quite a nice routine and this really helps me demarcate the days and get a sense of control when I’m surrounded by chaos. Sixteen year old me would have rolled my eyes at the very thought of enjoying a routine, but there we are. 

There’s nothing magical about mine, though. I have some quiet time over a coffee first thing in the morning, when I might write or catch up on online chats. I work through the morning (coaching, training, client calls) and take a lunch break where I’ll often go for a long walk. 

Work ends at 5pm, if not before. Then it’s some time on the cross-trainer, while watching something trashy on Netflix. Once a month, I take the final Friday off as a personal retreat for planning and reflection. But more about this in a future post. 

Exercise

Long walks are good on so many fronts. I’ve never injured myself walking, I don’t need any special sports gear and walks offer the perfect opportunity to deal with my reading backlog through the magic of audio books. I also listen to my favourite podcasts and get an almost complete break from any worries or anxiety while I’m striding through London. 

If you want to know more about the magic of walking, check out my interview with Prof. Shane O’Mara over on my podcast

Fun

I make sure I’ve something enjoyable to look forward to each evening. It might be a specific TV show, it might be a book or a magazine, or a scheduled call with a friend. But it saves me from passively lying in front of the TV and watching the evening dissolve before my eyes. 

Intentionally getting engaged in your personal life is a great way to manage boundaries between professional and personal. While I can’t go to a gym, a cinema or a pub, I can have something fun lined up which meets the same needs. Check out my recent interview with Dr. Ciara Kelly all about the role of hobbies and leisure while we’re working from home. 

Friends

If there’s one thing that can snap me out of taking life too seriously, it’s my friends. While arranging a video call with a friend would have felt decidedly weird in 2019, in 2021 it’s pretty much one of the few ways to keep in touch. 

Having a virtual beer with a good friend can help me put everything in perspective and keep up to date with events in my network’s lives. It’s easy to get too introspective and closed off, with nothing but my own worries. Chatting about life and our plans for the future is like a snapshot of an easier past and really recharges my social batteries. 

So what about you?

How are you dealing with this lockdown situation? Any tips you’d recommend to others?

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